Why Fortnite and Other Apps Disappear from App store and Play App Store?

Why Fortnite and Other Apps Disappear from App store and Play App Store
Why Fortnite and Other Apps Disappear from App store and Play App Store Pixabay

A lot of the news recently has been dominated with the revelation that Fortnite will no longer be available to players on the Apple app store and Google play store. It comes as Epic, the developer of the game, offered players a 20% discount on in-game purchases if they use the Epic store directly instead of the Apple or Google payment systems.

Players aren’t given this discount if they use either Google or Apple. Epic has said the reason behind this is that Apple and Google both take 30% of all revenues from purchases within their apps. It believes that this is an extortionate amount and both companies are taking advantage of their position in order to maintain an illegal monopoly. Epic aren’t willing to back down from this but neither are Apple or Google.

Players who have already downloaded the app will still be able to play the game, it just won’t be updated through the mobile device operating systems. iOS players will be unable to install the game if they don’t already have it on their device, but Android players will be able to use APK files to install Fortnite, it’s just not available on the Play store.

Other apps also targeted

This has led to other apps also being targeted by the two companies. Most notably is Apple and Google targeted online gambling apps. This has meant a number of apps have been removed from both stores since mid 2019. Many of these apps have been removed mistakenly, with developers complaining that their apps have been deemed illegal gambling apps when that is not the case. It also means that many legitimate gambling apps have decided to take other routes to offer their products to customers.

A lot of online casinos have moved towards offering browser based versions of their sites for players. It means that the full, or very close to full, range of casino features will be available to players when using a mobile browser. From here the online casinos are able to offer players the ability to make payments without breaching the Apple or Google terms of service. With the improvement in browser technology, as well as the shift towards using HTML5 to develop online casino games, it means that mobile players can get a full online casino experience.

This doesn’t help apps that were removed when they weren’t gambling apps however. An example of this was an app that allows players to share their gaming clips. So if a player scored a great goal in FIFA, they could use the app to share the clip. For some reason this app was targeted as gambling. While it’s understandable that Apple would have to use an algorithm to remove illegal apps, there are too many to manually sort through them, the algorithm should also be sophisticated enough to spot if an app is legitimate or not. This has caused a lot of developers financial hardship through no fault of their own. With the large portion of revenue that Apple takes from in-app purchases it does mean the company literally has the livelihoods of people in its hands.

Epic files a lawsuit

Unlike the multitude of smaller developers, Epic does have some tricks up its sleeve that it can use. This currently doesn’t include the ability to offer Fortnite through the mobile browser. While mobile browsers are improving at a very fast rate, they’re still not quite capable of playing a game as complex as Fortnite without losing some of what it offers. This means that Epic has had to take some different routes in order to fight back.

The first step that Epic took was to release an ad that mocked the iconic 1984 ad from Apple. This saw a giant talking apple delivering a totalitarian speech to a crowd when characters from Fortnite run in and smash the giant screen that the apple is talking on. Text then appears on the screen detailing what is going on with the situation. Epic isn’t exactly a small company and it’s definitely acting out of its own best interests, however this is something that could benefit smaller companies as well.

This has led to Epic filing a lawsuit against both Apple and Google. Both companies have publicly said that they are willing to work with Epic in order to see Fortnite return to the app stores, however this doesn’t appear to be something Epic is willing to just stand by and allow to happen. It’s more likely that Epic will attempt to look into alternative solutions, similar to the way that gambling operators have done, in order to bring Fortnite to iOS and Android players.

The lawsuits both cite Apple and Google as behaving like monopolies, with more than a billion players across the world having the opportunity to play Fortnite removed from them. It also says that both companies are attempting to stop developers from innovating and are using the hard work of others to take an unfair proportion of profits.

The future?

It’s hard to say what will happen in the future. At the moment Epic hasn’t been able to resolve any issues with Apple or Google, so Fortnite isn’t available to players on iOS and can’t be downloaded through the Play store on Android. This does add extra issues for Android players as it means there are a lot of popup ads appearing on versions of the game downloaded outside of the Play store.

While many feel that Epic is behaving in a self-serving manner, the fact remains that if the lawsuits are successful it will benefit smaller developers. The large percentage that Apple and Google take from revenue is quite unfair, especially as players are forced to use their payment system. This means that the cost of operating the payment system is not something Apple or Google have to take on, it is something they are making developers go through. So, as such it means that it is unfair to force such a large percentage on the developer.

The Epic lawsuit is something that no smaller developer would have been able to do, the pure financial power behind Apple and Google means that they could keep the lawsuit going until smaller developers ran out of money. However, Epic has enough money to be able to support the lawsuit in the long term, which could lead to Apple and Google having to hold their hands up and behave in a fairer manner towards developers.

It could be an exciting time for developers in the future, especially if Epic is successful, however it could also be the dawn of a new era with even more restrictions in place. This is definitely something worth watching, especially if you’re a developer looking to get into the mobile gaming world.

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